Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Every child should try to catch a leprechaun at least one. It's a great STEM activity for kids to design and build a leprechaun trap!
STEM activity for kids - design and build a leprechaun trap

This project was executed in 2012 when Smarty was in kindergarten. I used to have an older post on this project, but I decided to start a new series Engineer This on my blog and will refresh and republish older posts with new graphics, text and links if they fit into this series.
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Creative Challenges From School

Every two months or so our school gives every grade some sort of creative project as homework. Usually they are book reports in different variations or other projects involving writing, but one stood out in these three years for its ability to spur creativity and hands-on approach. Students were asked to design and build a leprechaun trap. Usually this project is done in the first grade, but Smarty was in K-1 combo class, so she did it in kindergarten and repeated it again in the first grade.

Design Decisions From a 5 Year Old

Smarty was pretty decisive about her vision for building a leprechaun trap. She wanted to place a golden coin lure inside of the box and cover the floor of the box with sticky tape to trap a poor leprechaun like a fly on fly paper. Papa helped her with designing a ladder for a leprechaun to climb to the top of the box. While this project required some guidance and supervision, she did all the painting, gluing and decorating for her leprechaun trap, so it was truly her work.

Getting Children to Write Within Other Activities

Smarty was still a reluctant writer in kindergarten, but she really applied herself to designing “billboards” for her leprechaun trap proving yet again that children will do a difficult activity a lot more willingly if it is wrapped within a game or an interesting project. She surprised all of us by applying “reverse psychology” in one of her leprechaun ads, which reads, No Leprechauns Allowed! She explained that leprechauns love to do forbidden things and will certainly do the opposite of her message.

A Lesson in Planning

Smarty, of course, was hoping to do all this project in one sitting, but this is where parental guidance came in handy. We helped her break this project, which was fairly complex for a five year old, into several steps and helped her to stay on track with schedule. Now, when she is in second grade, I am teaching her to manage her own projects with a task board, just as I do for my work related projects.
Smarty was very pleased to take her leprechaun trap to school and share it with her classmates. As a parent, I found it interesting to be able to see other traps and admire creativity of her classmates and, in some cases, creativity of their parents Smile

Pair This Project With a Book About St Patrick’s Day

The Night Before St Patrick Day

We chose to read The Night Before St Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing after Smarty had completed her leprechaun trap, since the whole book is based on the premise of catching a leprechaun and several traps are featured in the book. The illustrations by Amy Wummer are lovely and really reflect the playfulness of Natasha Wing’s text. This book is actually one of our favorites for St Patrick’s Day, and we have it in our own library.

More Resources for St Patrick’s Day

From my blog:
Consider following my St Patrick’s Day Pinterest Board Follow Natalie Planet Smarty Pants's board St Patrick's Day on Pinterest.

Your Turn

STEM for kids: Design and build a leprechaun trap

Have your children built a leprechaun trap? What did it look like? What are some of your favorite children books for St Patrick’s Day?

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maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I remember this post! This sounds like a great idea for a series - looking forward to it!

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

What a cute idea! And you're right - lots of building and planning going on. Looking forward to seeing more in this series!

Ticia said...

I think we did a leprechaun trap around the same time as you did, and my kids decided to try and disguise it as a trap, and camouflaged it in the backyard.

hey said...

First, I totally love this idea for a series. Engineering is definitely something at which children are gifted. I can't wait to see all of the creative ideas.

Second, this leprechaun trap is fabulous! So much thinking and planning. Awesome! (So did she catch one?) -jeannine: waddleeahchaa.com

hey said...

Natalie, This week I linked up a stuffed dinosaur that MacGyver stitched-up. I immediately thought of your Engineering series.

Happy planning, thinking, creating and building! -jeannine: waddleeahchaa.com

April's Homemaking said...

What a fun project! St. Patrick's Day is one of our favorite little holidays. :)

Marie-Claude Leroux said...

Looking forward to this series!

Amy said...

This is such a cute idea! Thanks for Linking up at Mom's Library. I have featured you this week at Pounds4Pennies.

Carrie said...

So fun!! We had a great time building a leprechaun trap last year. We haven't done it yet this year. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!! And congrats on being most clicked this week!

Victoria Armijo - Owner said...

I love this! I make a Leprechaun trap with my girls every year and used to do it in my classroom when I taught and my students LOVED it! Thank you for sharing at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop, you were featured as one of my favorites this week :)

Jeanine H said...

Fantastic I Love It! Thank you for sharing!! :D

shelah moss said...

What a fun Leprechaun trap! We make one every year.